Destinations such as Australia and New Zealand offer a great opportunity for agents to promote and earn from a rapidly-evolving touring product, says APT head of sales and commercial Angela Waite
When APT started out 90 years ago, there were no real coach tours as such. They were an innovation that we introduced to our portfolio in the 1960’s.
Our fledgling tours into the Aussie outback bear little resemblance to the holidays we offer today, except of course for the innovation – that’s something that has remained throughout. It’s more evident today than ever before, for us at APT and also for our counterparts across the sector.
With demand for escorted tours on the increase, competition in the touring sector is an all-time high.
That’s great news for today’s travellers who are spoilt for choice in terms of travel styles, destinations, accommodation and experiences. There really is an amazing tour out there to suit just about every preference and pocket.
But when I speak to agents on the ground it seems there is still a disconnect amongst prospective clients between the perception of what an escorted tour involves versus the reality of what many operators are working hard to offer.
The reality is that escorted touring today offers huge choice, from adventure touring to specialised options such as cycling, rail, wildlife and gardening.
For the more mainstream traveller looking for a dream holiday that takes in all the icons, land touring now includes all of this and often more, with some operators even including incredible exclusive sightseeing experiences.
Gone are the days when you were beholden to the itinerary. Today’s tour operators know that freedom and flexibility to tailor a trip is an important factor for clients, and many operators have included options within the sightseeing programme to ensure travellers have choice.
Yet despite all this incredible innovation, choice and flexibility I still have agents admit to me that with destinations such as Australia and New Zealand, they think it’s easier to offer them a self-drive holiday over a tour.
Self-drive holidays are great, but there is so much more to gain from selling the right tour to the right guest plus it’s easier than you think.
When I’m training agents, I always advise them to ask clients if their ideal holiday is:
Hassle-free: If your client wants everything taken care of – the organising and planning of all the finer detail; booking the hotels; porterage and tipping; expert insight into their destination provided on a plate; travel arranged aboard state-of-the-art luxury coaches; even priority entry arranged to some of the most popular tourist sites so they don’t have to queue – then a tour could be the perfect option.
Value for money: With today’s currency fluctuations, touring offers peace of mind for the value-conscious traveller. That’s because everything is paid for up front and covered before departure, meaning no nasty financial surprises when your client is away.
Unforgettable: Don’t be scared to offer an escorted tour to someone looking for once-in-a lifetime experiences. Today’s itineraries offer lots of choice and some feature them as standard.
Flexible: Escorted tours can be tailored. At APT for example we offer Freedom of Choice sightseeing and dining so you can choose where you go, what you see and where you eat in certain destinations.
Peace of mind: Often led by an experienced tour director, the details are already planned and nothing is left to chance. Local guides provide expert insight and knowledge. Clients can simply relax and enjoy their holiday. Sounds great, right?
Ultimately escorted touring has something to offer everyone. It’s a great way to secure commission and you’ll secure a loyal client in the process.
Contact the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers for more information on training and business development opportunities. Let us help you learn more about the benefits of selling touring product to the right clients.
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